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As February 14 and Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, many teenagers find themselves in an incredibly vulnerable position.

For those in a relationship, Valentine’s Day brings up questions: What present do you get? Where do you go for dinner? Is it time for the relationship to progress physically?

Those who are not in a relationship see Valentine’s as the day where they are painfully aware they are alone with no flowers, date or sappy Instagram post in the near future.

Relationships are difficult and awkward at any age, but especially for teenagers who still haven’t figured themselves out, much less how to navigate a relationship with another searching teenager. Unfortunately, the relationships many of our teenagers are learning from on social media, TV and movies are unhealthy, abusive, manipulative and obsessive.

How can we show our teenagers what real healthy relationships look like?

In a world with competing depictions of love, we have to intentionally talk about and show teenagers what healthy, loving, realistic relationships look like. This by no means implies that you must have the perfect relationship yourself (we are shooting for realistic, remember?), but it does require some transparency.

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We often get asked to talk about what we do at Teen Lifeline. There are several ways to explain it and you can find some of them on our Support Groups or Teen Parents page. However, I find that people often want to know more practically what we are up to and for that I have found a story that I feel communicates well what our teen support groups are all about.

I was reading a book called Take the Stairs by Rory Vanden. In it he talks about being from Colorado and the he sees life lessons in nature.

In Colorado you have the beautiful Rocky Mountains. As majestic and amazing as they are they can also be terrifying and daunting at times. This is also for many of the animals that live on and around the mountains. One such case of majesty that comes with these mountains are storms. These storms are huge, they roll in and you can watch them as they form and come over the tops of the mountains then roll across the landscape or over your head as the case may be.

As beautiful as these may be animals must deal with these elements in their own way. Two such cases are the buffalo and cattle. Both live on the plains and, no doubt, enjoy the weather much of the time, they also face the storms that come but in very different ways.

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